Friday, May 25, 2012

Show, Not Tell

Open your arms and legs really wide.  Bend your knees a little bit like Elvis.  Then shout, "Show!' Immediately hunch your body and put your indent finger in front of your mouth, then whisper with a sassy tone, "Not Tell."  Now you feel, "Show, Not Tell" in the writing elaboration.  (See the OSPI Writing Elaboration Module)  Show, Not Tell is one of the scenes in the writing elaboration module that have been hiding in the corner of my mind up until just recently.  Shame on me.  Well, I decided to think positively and teach it in my class this week.  "When it's found, it is the time to start."

----------- This phrase reminds me of a pathetic Japanese way of comfort to young women older than 25 years old.  If you are not married by age 25, you will be referred to as a left over Christmas cake.  Here is why.   People buy most Christmas cakes from the bakery on Christmas eve, so they should be empty by the end of the day; however, right next day, you might see one or two unfortunately forgotten pieces from this festive Western holiday uniquely adopted in the East.  These leftovers still look nice but couldn't go anywhere.  This is the most tragic Japanese metaphor of beautiful looking young girls who cannot be picked by anyone on Christmas eve.  In other words, the society expects girls should marry out to someone by age 25.  If you pass 25, you will be despised as lack of sold value.  A few of my friends who successfully married before 25 comfort me, "Don't worry.  When you find someone, that is the time to marry.  Don't rush."  I didn't rush, but I felt pretty annoyed by their "kind" words when I was 25 without a husband.  I would've said, "Show, Not Tell!"  So I decided to get out from them, hoping, no one knew what "Christmas cake" meant besides a real Christmas cake in the U.S.  Sure enough, not only did people not know about it, but also, I learned that not many American people buy Christmas cakes in the bakery.  Like a home-made pecan pie that Grandma Eleanor baked, it seemed like people prefer family recipes to the store baked goods.  That is when I finally found the comfort, so I decided that this is the place where I belong.

After the Show, Not Tell physical performance, my students started developing thinking bubbles over their heads, "What is Show, Not Tell anyway?"  I wrote on the chart paper, She was a kind person.  "Is it a Show or Tell?"  Two examples of Show, Not Tell were good enough prior to this sentence, in fact, every voices echoed, "Tell!"  One said, "It is too boring."  Another said, "You can find treasure with that sentence."  Yay!  3rd graders lead me to the direction I wanted to go.  "So, how would you make this 'Telling' sentence to the 'Showing' sentence?"  "When I fell down, she picked me up," one of the enthusiastic pupils shared.  I wrote "When I fell down" on the top of the chart paper and "She picked me up" in the half way down.  With a puzzling expression on my face, I threw another challenge to them.  "Hmmm, I wonder why you fell, how you fell, and where you fell."  You wouldn't believe it.  All of the hands, even a constant day dreaming student's one, shoot up immediately.  Our enthusiasm summed up into this "Showing" paragraph:

When I fell from the bike, I saw the blood on my knee.  I cried uncontrollably.  As soon as a lady noticed me from her house, she dashed out from the house with a first aid kit.   She asked me if I was O.K..  Then, her hands held my arms and pulled me up.

It is never too late.  Nothing should limit anybody's desire to learn no matter where you are or how old you are.  I am thankful to live in the country of freedom so I can continue to discover, learn, and share my passion with the next generation.  I will always show what's important instead of just telling it.